- FAA establishes a two-week no-fly zone for drones over the Del Rio Bridge in Southern Texas.
- More than 10,000 illegal migrants gathered underneath the Del Rio Bridge in Texas in recent days.
- FAA no-fly zone was imposed at the request of the US Border Patrol which claimed that drones were interfering with law enforcement flights.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice declaring a 14-day no-fly zone for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over the Del Rio Bridge on US-Mexico border, in southern Texas.
Citing “special security reasons” the FAA has banned drones from flying over Del Rio Bridge where more than 10,000 illegal migrants have gathered, preventing local media from capturing aerial footage of the site.
A huge crowd of illegal migrants has accumulated under the bridge in recent days, with Del Rio’s Mayor Bruno Lozano putting the figure at more than 10,500 as of Thursday night, also calling on President Joe Biden to address the “ongoing crisis” in the Texas border town.
The FAA drone ban was first reported by a local Fox News affiliate, which previously captured dramatic aerial footage showing the vast numbers of migrants packed under the bridge. At the time the footage circulated on Thursday morning, it was estimated some 8,200 people were at the scene, though the mayor suggested the crowd had grown by another 2,000 or so in the hours since. Many of the migrants are reportedly Haitians.
While the FAA’s initial notice cited only vague “security” concerns, a statement obtained by media said the no-fly zone was imposed at the request of the US Border Patrol, which claimed that drones were “interfering with law enforcement flights on the border.” The agency added, however, that media outlets may be able to request exemptions to continue operating drones over the area.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also taken aim at Biden over the border issue, saying the administration’s response has been “appalling” and one of “sheer negligence.” Earlier on Thursday, the governor directed local authorities to shut down six points of entry along the southern border “to stop these [migrant] caravans from overrunning our state.”
Del Rio is just one of three dozen such crossing points along the Texas-Mexico border. Migrants arriving at these crossings can either claim asylum or present themselves to Border Patrol to be arrested and then released into the US, with an Obama-era ‘catch and release’ policy reinstated by President Biden earlier this year. Biden has also attempted to scrap ex-president Donald Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which forced certain asylum-seekers to await immigration proceedings outside the US, though the Supreme Court has overturned the move, arguing Biden did not follow the proper steps to end the practice.